Over the last week we’ve seen a lot of Asian bouts, which have stolen the headlines for fight fans in Thailand and in Japan. With all the bouts it should be clear that there hasn’t been a lot of pure news, or rumours from the region. There has however been a few stories of note.
This week saw two Japanese fighters having their next opponents named. One of those fighters was unbeaten teenage sensation Hinata Maruta (4-0, 3), who we now know will be Indonesian national champion Hamson Tiger Lamandau (8-0, 5). It’s been known for a while that Maruta would be in action on March 26th, defending his WBC Youth Bantamweight title, but it wasn’t until this week that his opponent was named.
At the press conference to announce Maruta’s opponent the fighter himself stated that that he’s going to be chasing major titles later in the year, and has eyes on both the OPBF and the JBC titles.
The other Japanese fighter having his opponent named was Masayoshi Nakatani (13-0, 8), the OPBF Lightweight title. It’s long been known that he would be defending his title on April 9th but it wasn’t until the last day or two that his opponent was actually named, with the Nakatani now set to face Kaewfah Tor Buamas (23-1, 16), who looks like a good test for Nakatani.
Staying on the theme of OPBF title bouts it was also leaked that Rene Dacquel (18-6-1, 6) will be defending his OPBF Super Flyweight title against Shota Kawaguchi (20-7-1, 8) on April 2nd. This will be Dacquel’s second defense and is expected to be announced in the coming days, possible even before you’ve read this.
An really interesting bit of news from Korea came courtesy of BoxingM who announced the second season of their SBS linked televised tournament. This time the focus is on the Lightweight division and could end up being one of the biggest stories in Korean boxing this year. The firs tournament, at Welterweight, was regarded as a success, albeit a flawed one, and it seems the organisers have tweaked a few things for this tournament, which is expected to feature 32 fighters!
As you’re all probably aware by now WBC Bantamweight champion Shinsuke Yamanaka (27-0-2, 19) recorded his 12th defense of the title this past week, stopping Mexican challenger Carlos Carlson (22-2, 13) in 7 rounds. After the fighter Yamanaka had a press conference and stated that he was interested in a bout with Luis Nery (22-0, 16) next. It seems like that bout will be the focus for Yamanaka who is just a single defense from tying a 36 year old Japanese record for the most world title defenses.
It’s also worth explaining why Yamanaka isn’t in a rush to leave Japan. The popularity in Japan is huge and TV figures suggest that 9.8% of the Kanto region, a region of about 42,000,000, watched the bout. That gives Yamanaka around 4,000,000 viewers, from Kanto alone, for a bout that was widely seen as a mismatch. That’s more than twice as many viewers than the American audience for Deontay Wilder’s bout with Gerald Washington, which was also regarded as a mismatch.
On the rumour front it appears that pens are close to paper in regards to a WBA “Regular” Middleweight title fight between Japan’s Ryota Murata (12-0, 9) and Frenchman Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam (35-2, 21), with speculation being that the bout could take place in late May. This is expected to be officially announced later this month, but sources in France and Japan have both revealed that a deal is about done.
In Mexico sources are running with a story that Ken Shiro (9-0, 5) will face WBC Light Flyweight champion Ganigan Lopez (28-6, 17) in late May. The bout has peculiar timings, given that Ken Shiro is still scheduled to defend his Japanese title on on April 2nd, but there is no reason why he can’t pull double duty with about 8 weeks between fights. If he has got the Lopez bout sorted however he will have to make sure not to over-look veteran Tetsuya Hisada (27-9-2, 17) in a mandatory defense of the Japanese title.
(Scott Graveson covers the Asian boxing scene for www.asianboxing.info)